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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 07:20 GMT
Arms suspect's arrest 'unlawful'
By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Bangkok

Viktor Bout
Viktor Bout was arrested in luxury hotel in the Thai capital on 6 March
The lawyer for an alleged Russian arms dealer has complained that no specific charges have been filed, and insists his client is innocent of any crime.

Viktor Bout was detained in a Bangkok hotel 10 days ago, after a sting operation by American agents posing as Colombian rebels trying to buy weapons.

The United States is now seeking his extradition from Thailand.

Mr Bout has been called the world's biggest illegal arms dealer and, by one UK minister, the "Merchant of Death".

'Groundless'

Since his dramatic arrest in Bangkok 10 days ago, Viktor Bout, the man accused of being the biggest illegal arms dealer of modern times, has vanished from view.

Having initially paraded their prize before the media, the Thai police have had second thoughts; fears for his security, they say, have forced them to keep him out of sight.

They are even planning to have him testify in court via video link.

But he does now have a team of lawyers working for him in Thailand.

Jan Dasgupta
Mr Dasgupta says his client has committed no crime

Jan Dasgupta, head of his Russian defence team, insisted there was no evidence of any wrong-doing by his client.

"He considers his arrest unlawful, and groundless," he said.

"And he does not consider himself guilty of any illegal action, neither in Thailand, nor where else in the world."

Mr Dasgupta complained that Thai officials had been pressing Mr Bout to agree to go to the United States, where he is wanted on charges of assisting a terrorist organisation.

He said he saw no basis for extraditing his client from the charge-sheet prepared by prosecutors in New York, and that he had not seen any specific charges against Mr Bout in Thailand.

Responding to the allegation that his client was the world's most notorious arms dealer, Mr Dasgupta insisted Mr Bout ran a legitimate air transport and logistics business, but had aroused suspicion only because he operated in war-torn regions of Africa.



SEE ALSO
Bail denied for arms suspect Bout
11 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Arms suspect faces charges in US
07 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Thailand holds 'top arms dealer'
06 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Viktor Bout
06 Mar 08 |  Europe
Arms traders 'dodging embargoes'
02 Oct 06 |  Special Reports
Key figures on UN list
21 Oct 02 |  Africa

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